I am currntly attending an advanced elder law and Medicaid planning conference in Tempe, Arizona. The conference is hosted by ElderCounsel of which I am a charter member. Some of the best and brightest attorneys througout the country are here and we are discussing the most advanced techniques to help our clients protect and preserve their hard earned assets agains the devastating costs of long term care. For most of my elderly couples, if one of them needs nursing home care, the $5,000 to $6,000 monthly cost could greatly affect the finances of the spouse that is still able to stay at home. Creative and legal steps can be taken, even in a crisis situation, to help protect those assets for the benefit of the well spouse. Too often I see couples making outright gifts of assets to their children. These gifts will not only cause a penalty period for Medicaid but will subject the gifted assets to the claims of children's creditors and could subject the assets to loss if the child later goes through a divorce. There are special trusts that can be used to protect assets against long-term care costs and also protect against loss from a child's creditors or divorcing spouse.
We are also covering a little known VA benefit referred to as "aid and attendance" that is available for war time veterans and their widows. This VA benefit can help these elderly individuals cover their long-term care costs, whether in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. These benefits are not automatic however. But, there are planning techniques that can be implemented to help qualify a person for this valuable benefit.